peddlers of sure-cure nostrums wandered throughout the
Old West, being more diversion and entertainment than
medicine shows brought excitement, to the dull existence of
many frontier communities, as both doctors and diversion were
Kickapoo Indian elixirs were best known of the hundreds
medicines available to Western Pioneers.
shelves were crammed with every imaginable kind of remedy,
including Wel De Meyer's Catarrh Cure as advertised in this
Georgetown, Colorado pharmacy.
doctors were generally vigilant in their opposition to
quacks in their ranks, but often the best of them used
new devices of dubious merit in their attempts to find
cures for their ailing patients.
drummers used Indians and dancing girls to gather a crowd.
They nearly always had a shill in the audience to buy the
were accompanied by weirder gadgetry as quacks sought to take
advantage of the gullible unsophisticated frontiersman.
Hilda Anderson Erickson of Tooele County, Utah (at left),
served many Western communities where doctors were seldom
seen. Some of them practiced "granny medicine" as well
as delivering babies.
Booze was often
passed off as a medical panacea, as was Dr. C.B. Girard's
Ginger Brandy advertised as a "certain cure" for a variety of
"factory" of Dr. James Cook Ayer produced more than half a
million daily doses of various remedies, including his famous
Sarsaparilla and a hair invigorator.
In notorious Dodge
City, Kansas, in the 1880's a crude kiosk forbade the carrying
of firearms and promoted Prickly Ash Bitters.